President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed European countries for their criticism of human rights and media freedom in the country and questioned the European Union’s “sincerity” in its support for Turkey’s fight against rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
In a speech in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan accused the EU of “hypocrisy” over Turkey’s resurgent battle with the PKK and took aim at his European counterparts, whom he has repeatedly accused of taking an indulgent approach towards PKK sympathisers.
Referring to the tent set up outside EU buildings by pro-PKK activists in Brussels during last week’s EU-Turkey summit on migration, he demanded: “How can the EU, which considers this [PKK] a terrorist organisation, tolerate such a situation?
“Where’s the sincerity? How can you talk about sincerity when the terrorist organisation is allowed to erect a tent in Brussels, outside the European Council building?”
In the speech, Erdogan also said Turkey was suffering “one of the biggest waves of terrorism in its history”, vowing to crush the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, as well as the Kurdish rebels behind a string of attacks.
“We will hit these terrorist organisations as hard as possible,” Erdogan said two days after a suspected ISIL suicide attack in Istanbul that killed at least five people.
“Faced with the terrorists’ new strategies, we will develop new modes of combat and quickly overcome them.”
Of the six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, killing more than 200 people, four were blamed on ISIL, with Kurdish rebels claiming the other two.
Turkey’s leader focused his attacks on the outlawed PKK, which resumed its three-decade-long insurgency against the state last summer after the collapse of a shaky two-year truce.